Book Review #1: Sketching User Experience by Bill Buxton. Part II | Targetprocess - Visual management software
10 years ago

Book Review #1: Sketching User Experience by Bill Buxton. Part II

Read first part of the review.

Evaluating Design

There are two important aspects of design process: generative and reductive. We generate a set of alternatives, then we restrict this set based on various criteria. It is impossible to evaluate a solution without its alternatives.

The best way to a good idea is to have lots of ideas — Linus Pauling

I can’t critique just one thing — Richard Sewell

That is one more reason why sketching is so powerful. It helps to generate and evaluate various alternatives. I’ve read in one article that Apple creates a dozen alternative designs for any product. Good enough...

One of the most positive form of criticism is a better idea

Acquiring positive attitude to criticism is a hard change. People don’t like to be criticized in general. You can’t get the correct reaction to criticism out of the box, but should apply every possible effort to make it a part of team’s culture.

People on a design team must be as happy to be wrong as right. If their ideas hold up under strong (but fair) criticism, then great, they can proceed with confidence. If their ideas are rejected with good rationale, then they have learned something. A healthy team is made up of people who have the attitude that it is better to learn something new than to be right

Built to Last

Without appropriate design, yesterday’s success is tomorrow’s failure, since today’s great applications are tomorrow’s legacy systems

Some design decisions live for about 20 years if product is successful. For example, Photoshop has been on the market for 20 years, and some parts of its initial architecture still exist. Can you now imagine how important architectural decisions are? On to entities framework in TargetProcess that was designed 4 years ago. How long will it live? Definitely we did not consider a 20 year time frame back then...

We should assume that technology that is going to have a significant impact over the next 10 years is already 10 years old!

My takeaway lesson is that we should pay more attention to new technologies and think ahead at the same time. This may sound impossible, but it is worth trying.


Learning is a very important thing. No, I will re-phrase it. Learning is the most important thing in your company. Surprisingly, Bill has given an interesting perspective on learner’s experience levels:


I haven’t seen this concept of levels before, and I like it very much. If we take agile, I am in transition between levels 9 and 10 (I think). In UX, I am between levels 5 and 6. This model is a good guide and may help understand and plan personal or even corporate learning process. Is it possible to apply it to the whole company? Maybe.

Story-telling and Play

A good story is worth thousands of pictures

That one is true. For example, Steve Jobs told 3 stories from his life at Stanford Commencement Speech in 2005. And this speech was remarkable indeed. I remember all the 3 stories, despite the fact that I heard them only once.

Without play imagination dies

and one more:

Stories, and more importantly, story-telling and play, are critical part of design

Ever been on a boring brainstorming session? Fun is an essential part of any creative activity. It should be encouraged, not suppressed.


Finally, some outstanding quotes on design:

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But, of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. To design something really well, you have to ‘get it.’ You have to really grok [understand] what it’s all about — Steve Jobs

The last thing that you should do when beginning to design an interactive system is write code

The role of design is to find the best design. The role of usability engineering is to help make that design the best.

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